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"Picking up the Pieces": On the bottom of the Atlantic, Firestorm is looking for fragments of Plastic Man. He has been searching for the better part of a day, and over that time he has assembled fragments as small as 1/10th of a gram

Quote1.png Change is life, Clark. The League is a living, breathing thing, and sometimes... it too changes, in all ways but one... old heroes may fade away... but the League never dies. Quote2.png
Martian Manhunter, before he leaves

JLA #76 is an issue of the series JLA (Volume 1) with a cover date of February, 2003. It was published on December 26, 2002.

Synopsis for "Picking up the Pieces"

On the bottom of the Atlantic, Firestorm is looking for fragments of Plastic Man. He has been searching for the better part of a day, and over that time he has assembled fragments as small as 1/10th of a gram. He hopes they will be enough.

In a surreal world, Plastic Man is serving as announcer for a game of baseball which the JLA is having in honor of their return to the present. Woozy Winks, his former sidekick, is his fellow announcer, and keeps making references to Pre-Crisis characters who no longer exist. Suddenly, everyone vanishes, and Plastic Man has a seizure—as, in the real world, the JLA work to reconstitute his body in their lab. The Atom decides that, even if they couldn't get his entire body, Plastic Man seems to already be regenerating the portions they could not recover. Batman suggests they use an emulsifier and place him in a covered environment, and see how he does. Firestorm makes a derogatory remark about Plastic Man, but Batman tells him to shut up—Plastic Man survived for 3,000 years as crumbs scattered across the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean; he has far more power than he shows.

Green Arrow and Hawkgirl have decided not to stay with the Justice League, but Faith has. After the three heroes trade banter, Green Arrow tells her to "Give 'em hell"; he would tell her to shout if she needs either of them, but considering what she can do, and what she just signed up for, he doubts she will. Nightwing is also preparing to leave; just before he goes, he tells Batman that, now he's seen death, he should spend more time with the living—particularly Wonder Woman, who seems to have taken a shine to him. Kyle is leaving as well, despite the protests of the Flash—the sacrifice he made to keep the League alive means he need some time to adjust. He has, however, already found a replacement—John Stewart.

In a holographic environment somewhere in the Watchtower, Manitou Dawn and Manitou Raven are enjoying a forest scene. He is amazed that she is even with him, considering she was not with him when he came forward in time, and she remarks that, as long as he loves her, nothing else matters. Jason Blood then walks in on them, telling Manitou Raven that the League has a vacant "medicine man" position.

Batman and Wonder Woman are finding it hard to talk—they are interrupted, in short order, by the Flash showing John Stewart around, by the Atom wheeling Major Disaster to infirmary after his injuries during the adventure, and finally by Superman—Aquaman has arrived in the conference room.

Aquaman has nothing but pride in the efforts of the Justice League, and tells them that Atlantis will never forget their actions. However, they will be dealing with his successors from now on—for sinking Atlantis, he will be put on trial for treason, and a sentence of some kind will be demanded. Despite their efforts, they cannot subvert the justice of Atlantis. Then, an alarm goes off—Plastic Man has recovered in the infirmary, and his first act is to attack former supervillain Major Disaster. Firestorm is forced to concede that Batman knows what he is doing.

Plastic Man, once he has recovered, tells the League that he survived as a disembodied consciousness for 3,000 years. He could not put himself together, despite trying for a few years. He knew the Justice League had died, because they had not come to save him. He tried writing songs and poems to pass the time, he went through madness and sanity, he wrote his obituary a few times, he even went to sleep—but still, one thought haunted him for three thousand years: that he should have been there to raise his son. Despite the enormous personal and professional respect he has for the League, as individuals and as an institution, he has decided to leave the League, probably forever, to be there for his son.

Later that day, Martian Manhunter has requested a private meeting with Superman, to tell him that he, too, is planning to leave the team for a time. Despite helping everyone else deal with the psychological effects of dying during the Obsidian Age he still blames himself for the events—after all, he could have stopped it all if someone had not set a fire. He plans to conquer his fear of fire, and return when he has done so. Superman is sorry to see his friend go, but is proud of his efforts. As the Martian Manhunter, Faith sends a message from the Monitor Womb that some warning lights are activating. Superman responds that it means they have a job to do.

Appearing in "Picking up the Pieces"

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